Thailand’s Tiger Temple applies for zoo license: our response
We support Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) in their bid to confiscate the captive tigers and move them to the Research Station in Khao Prathrap Chang. This step forward will help protect tigers that ultimately belong in the wild.
According to sources in Thailand, The Tiger Temple Co has applied for a zoo license.
The Tiger Temple has been involved in an ongoing conflict with Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) related to tiger living conditions and forced interaction with tourists.
The DNP has taken steps to remove tigers from the Tiger Temple, and plans to remove the remaining 142 cats.
We support the DNP in their bid to confiscate the captive tigers and move them to the Research Station in Khao Prathrap Chang. This step forward will help protect tigers that ultimately belong in the wild.
Allowing the Tiger Temple to apply for a zoo license will result in more suffering for the animals already exploited for wildlife entertainment, and the illegal wildlife trade.
World Animal Protection Thailand Wildlife Campaign Manager, Somsak Soonthornnawaphat, weighed in on the situation surrounding the Tiger Temple.
“Tigers at the temple are bred purely for tourist entertainment. They are forcibly removed from their mothers to be handled by tourists and used for photo opportunities, with adult tigers kept in small cages or on chains for long periods - it’s a far cry from what their lives should be like in the wild.
Earlier this year, Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection Australia, echoed the concerns of Soonthornnawaphat.
“Tigers at the Tiger Temple are separated from their mothers at an early age, and forced into submission through cruel training to make them docile enough to interact with tourists.”
Educating the public that wildlife are not entertainers
We are dedicated to raising awareness about the cruel side of wildlife tourism and the suffering that wild animals endure for a show or photo op.
Both Soonthornnawaphat and Benyon agree that those who visit cruel wildlife tourist attractions may not know that their actions are contributing to animal suffering.
“We know that most people who pay for a wild animal encounter do so because they love animals and are simply unaware of the cruelty that goes on behind the scenes,” said Benyon.
Oxford University's WildCRU reviewed over 50,000 reviews on Trip Advisor and found that 80% of people were unaware of the cruelty inflicted on the wild animals in tourist entertainment venues.
Global polling conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for World Animal Protection in 2014 showed that 93% of tourists take part in wildlife tourism because they love wild animals or to have fun. Eighty three percent of these same tourists said they would prefer to see wild animals in the wild if they had the chance.
“Many tourists unwittingly contribute to the suffering of wild animals as they’re simply not aware their ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, means a lifetime of misery for the animals,” said Soonthornnawaphat.
How can you help? Be an animal friendly tourist
Soonthornnawaphat encourages those traveling in Thailand to research their travel destinations before venturing out.
“We urge tourists travelling in Thailand to learn the facts before they book. Once people know the truth, they can help to end cruelty by avoiding wildlife entertainment attractions, such as the Tiger Temple, and choose to see wild animals in the wild, where they belong.”
We are continuing our campaign to end cruel wildlife tourism by calling for tour operators to protect wildlife. Add your voice to the growing call and sign our petition.
Together, we can ensure that visitors who love animals know about wildlife cruelty and demand for it to stop.
Image: A tiger at a facility for tourists in Thailand.